WNY hero was killed while serving with US Army in Iraq
During a ceremony at the African American Veterans Monument, on Memorial Day, Congressman Brian Higgins presented the family of United States Army Pfc. David Evans Jr. with the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, Gold Star Lapel Pin and six additional military service medals earned while he served in the Iraq War.
Presentations were also made by Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen, Erie County Legislator Howard Johnson, the Patriot Guard Riders Capt. Don Higgins and representatives from the offices of Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes, New York State Sen. Tim Kennedy and Mayor Byron Brown. A brick featuring Evans’ name was placed at the African American Veterans Monument during the ceremony. U.S. Army First Lt. Kyle Haas also announced the late Evans would become the 25th recipient of the 977th Military Police Co.’s Raider Eternal Award.
Higgins said, “There are no words or actions that can heal the pain felt, and the absence left in the hearts of our Gold Star Mothers and families. David answered duty’s call. It is fitting we come together to lay a brick with Private First Class Evans’ name here at the African American Veterans Monument, because it is his selfless commitment that lays the foundation for all American freedom. On behalf of a grateful nation, we honor Private First Class David Evans’ faithful commitment and the supreme sacrifice he made for our country.”
Robin Hodges, chief operations and impact officer for the African American Veterans Monument, said, “PFC David Evans Jr. exemplified the essence of selflessness and unwavering dedication and made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. His steadfast commitment transcended the borders of Buffalo and Western New York, resonating throughout the fabric of this great nation. In recognition of his heroism, the African American Veterans Monument board of directors has the honor of placing a brick in the foundation of this monument, and it is with our heartfelt gratitude that we are presenting a commemorative brick to his family. As we partake in this momentous occasion, we are humbled by the privilege to pay homage to PFC David Evans Jr.'s enduring legacy and the monumental impact he has made in the hearts of us all."
Evans enlisted in the U.S. Army after graduating in 2002 from Kensington High School in Buffalo. His dream was to become a military police officer and later serve as an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Sadly, he was killed on May 25, 2003, while on duty with the 977th Military Police Co. in Diwaniyah, Iraq.
Evans hoped the military would lead him to a career in law enforcement. He had a calling to public service that led him to intern at Buffalo City Hall while still in high school. He also liked hip-hop music, basketball, football and cross-country running. Most of all, when speaking of Evans, his friends, family and teachers all brought up his infectious smile and optimistic attitude.
Congressman Brian Higgins speaks as First Lt. Kyle Haas and family listen in. (Submitted photo)
Higgins was joined by Haas at Buffalo and Erie County Naval & Military Park and, together, they presented the following medals Evans earned while serving 20 years ago:
√ Army Service Ribbon: Awarded to members of the U.S. Army upon successful completion of training.
√ Iraq Campaign Medal with Two Bronze Service Stars: Awarded to a member of the U.S. military who performed duty within the borders of Iraq. The Bronze Service stars represent service in two campaign phases.
√ Global War on Terror Service Medal: Recognizes those military service members who have supported counterterrorism operations in the War on Terror in response to Sept. 11.
√ Global War on Terror Expeditionary Medal: Recognizes those military service members who have deployed overseas in response to the War on Terror.
√ National Defense Service Medal: Presented to those who served honorably during periods of war or conflict declared a national emergency, including the Korean War, Vietnam War, Persian Gulf War and the War on Terrorism.
√ Good Conduct Medal: Awarded to an active-duty enlisted member of the U.S. military who completes three consecutive years of "honorable and faithful service," or to service members serving one year during times of war who have an “excellent” character and efficiency rating.
√ Army Achievement Medal: Recognizing the outstanding achievement or meritorious service.
√ Purple Heart Medal: The Purple Heart is awarded to soldiers who have been injured or killed due to hostile actions while serving with the U.S. armed services. The original Purple Heart, designated as the Badge of Military Merit, was established by Gen. George Washington in 1782
√ Bronze Star Medal: One of the highest individual awards in the U.S. military, awarded to members of the military for meritorious service in a combat zone.
Along with the medals presented to the family of Evans, his mother, Esther Macklin, received the Gold Star Lapel Button, issued to the direct next-of-kin family members of service members who lost their lives while serving in the military. Higgins also presented the family with a flag flown over the United State Capitol and an extension of remarks honoring Evans, which will be entered into the Library of Congress. Higgins’ office also worked to enroll Evans into the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor.